Gabbys Wordspeller™ - ESL Phonetic Dictionary

Studies on Dyslexia

Choose a name below to read a brief synopsis of their study...

Sally E. Shaywitz, Ph.D.
Linda Kreger Silverman., Ph.D.
Virginia W. Berninger, Ph.D.
Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D.
Ronald D. Davis (discovered root cause and corrected his own dyslexia at the age of 38)
Resolve the Factors that Trigger Disorientation in Reading (for Dyslexics)
A Mobile Application for Displaying More Accessible eBooks for People with Dyslexia

NICHD-Funded Researchers Map Physical Basis of Dyslexia
Sally E. Shaywitz, Ph.D.

"...Dr. Shaywitz explained that the words we speak are made up of individual sounds called phonemes. In spoken language, the brain automatically combines these sounds to form words. To make normal conversation possible, such sound pieces are strung together rapidly--about 8 to 10 per second--and blended so thoroughly that it's often impossible to separate them.

For people with dyslexia, the problem arises in converting this natural process to print. Written English is a kind of code: The 26 letters of the alphabet, either singly or in combination with other letters, stand for the 44 letter phonemes in spoken English. Dyslexic readers have extreme difficulty with phonological awareness (breaking spoken words into their component sounds) and with phonetics (the ability to match these letter sounds to the letters that represent them)...

...The dyslexic readers found it difficult to read nonsense rhyming words, such as "lete" and "jeat." This task is designed to measure the phonologic principals underlying reading and is far more difficult for dyslexic readers to complete than rhyming actual words, which they may have previously memorized.

When performing such tasks, the dyslexic readers in the study showed less activation in a brain region linking print skills to the brain's language areas, in comparison to normal readers. Specifically, dyslexic readers showed reduced activity in a large brain region that links the visual cortex and visual association areas (angular gyrus) to the language regions in the superior temporal gyrus (Wernike's area).

In the article, the authors noted that their findings are consistent with those of earlier studies of acquired inability to read (alexia). In both alexia and dyslexia, the same brain regions appear to be affected; however, in people with dyslexia, the study shows the impairment is a functional one, whereas in alexia, it has been attributed to a tumor or brain injury due to a stroke.

When they performed phonologic tasks, the dyslexic readers also showed activation in the brain region known as Broca's area, which has been associated with spoken language. In contrast, the normal readers did not show any increased activity in Broca's area when reading. Dr. Shaywitz explained that the dyslexic readers may have used this brain region in an attempt to compensate for impairments in the brain regions normally used for phonological skills..."
Read more at National Institute for Child Health - Dyslexia

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The Visual-Spatial Learner: An Introduction
Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.

"...Visual-spatial learners who experience learning problems have heightened sensory awareness to stimuli, such as extreme sensitivity to smells, acute hearing and intense reactions to loud noises. They are constantly bombarded by stimuli; they get so much information that they have trouble filtering it out. They tend to have excellent hearing, but poor listening skills. Their ability to retain and comprehend information auditorily is weak and they have difficulty with sequential tasks.

These children are highly perfectionistic, which means that they cannot handle failure. They usually refuse to attempt trial-and-error learning because they can't cope with the failure inherent in this technique. They have an all-or-none learning style (the aha phenomenon). They either immediately see the correct solution to a problem or they don't get it at all, in which case they may watch quietly (while pretending not to watch) or avoid the situation completely because it is too ego threatening.

Visual-spatial learners have amazing abilities to "read" people. Since they can't rely on audition for information, they develop remarkable visual and intuitive abilities, including reading body language and facial expressions..."
Read more at Gifted Development Center

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Why Spelling is Important and How to Teach it Effectively
Virginia W. Berninger, Ph.D.

Spelling is a code that uses letter sequences to represent specific words that have an associated pronunciation and meaning within the mental dictionary. Three kinds of codes contribute to spelling: a phonological code (coding and awareness of sounds in spoken words), an orthographic code (coding and awareness of letters in written words), and a morphological code (word parts at the beginning of words that modify shade of meaning and at end of words that mark tense, number, or part of speech). For example, the word "jumped" has five small sounds in it: /j/, /u/, /m/, /p/, and /t/ (these sounds are called phonemes). However, it has six letters. That is because the last two letters correspond to a word part (morpheme) that marks the past tense but corresponds to a single sound. In other words, that sound might be /d/ as in "named" or /ed/ as in "wanted."

Other sources of knowledge also contribute to spelling. These include vocabulary knowledge (semantic features or meaning clues), phonotactics (permissible and probable sound sequences, patterns, and positions in spoken words), and orthotactics (permissible and probable letter sequences, patterns, and positions in written words). For example, in English, words do not begin with the /m/ sound followed by the /l/ sound or generally end with /h/. Also, u not a follows q and the letter x does not double at the end of words but l, f, and s may. Further complicating matters is that the same word pronunciation may be associated with multiple meanings, which linguists call polysemy. Syntax (part of speech for a particular word and the permissible word order of the language) provides the clues that help the writer clarify which of the multiple meanings for that pronunciation is intended (e.g., He wound the clock. The wound did not heal. The boy read the red book.)

Spelling knowledge may be expressed as rules, statistical patterns, or procedures and these different kinds of knowledge have various implications for instruction. Examples of English spelling rules include generalization about (a) when to double final consonants in syllables as a function of accent patterns (e.g., when the accent is on the second syllable, double the last consonant in the second syllable, but when the accent is on the first syllable, do not double the last consonant). This rule is shown when "refer" becomes "referring" but not when the accent is on the first syllable as in "secret" which becomes "secretive" not "secrettive") or (b) when to drop or add letter(s) to the end of a base word when a derivational suffix beginning with i is added (e.g., final silent e is dropped when adding "ing" as in "tame" becomes "taming") (Dixon & Englemann, 2001)...

...The contrasting instructional implications of these different kinds of knowledge will now be considered. Rules are articulated declarative knowledge, applied at the metacognitive level in guiding, self-checking, or revising spelling. Teachers verbalize these rules and ask children to verbalize them too. Linguistic awareness is not acquired by verbalizing rules but rather by conscious reflections and operations on phonological, orthographic, and morphological word-forms and their parts in conscious memory. For example, children may engage in word sorts in which they have to reflect about common and unique sounds or morpheme patterns in written words as they classify them into categories. Little is known about how to teach children to abstract statistical patterns related to sound sequencing or letter sequencing, however, it may help to draw their attention to these patterns by playing games in which children judge whether scrambled sequences of sounds in spoken words sound like words in their language or scrambled sequences of letters look like written words in their language. Using anagrams in which they unscramble the letters to spell a real word may also benefit their spelling. Research reported later shows how specific procedures can be taught through modeling for helping children generate word spellings at the levels of phoneme-grapheme correspondences, onset-rimes, and whole words. Not all of the necessary spelling knowledge can be taught as declarative knowledge or rules..."
Read more at Literacy Encyclopedia - Canada

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The Second Deficit: An Investigation of the Independence of Phonological and Naming-Speed Deficits in Developmental Dyslexia
Maryanne Wolf, Ph.D., et al

In the study below (please visit this study at the website below) there were two major facets focused upon. Detecting learning challenges early on in youth via separation/distinction in identifying dispairment in phonological performance vs. naming speed...

(kindergarten children are) "...similar in color and object naming speed but...letter and number naming speeds are significantly slower from the outset, with letter-naming slowest (this is despite adequate knowledge of letter names). Thus, impaired readers begin their early primary grades with both a general naming-speed deficit and a particular deficit for automatic, alphanumeric symbols. Similar to average peers, rapid increases in speed occur by the end of Grade 1, with the most large increases made by the end of Grade 2 (Wolf, Bally & Morris 1986) ..."
Read more at Tufts University

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Anatomy of a Learning Disability
Ronald D. Davis

  1. "The individual encounters an unrecognized stimulus.This could be a word (written or spoken), symbol, or object that is not recognized.
  2. The lack of recognition causes a feeling of confusion.
  3. Confusion naturally and automatically stimulates or triggers disorientation.
    The individual uses disorientation to mentally examine the stimulus in an attempt to bring about recognition and resolve the confusion.
  4. Disorientation produces false sensory perceptions.
    The different views and perceptions the individual is examining mentally are being registered in the brain as actual perceptions.
  5. The disorientation and resulting false perceptions brings about the assimilation of incorrect data.
  6. The incorrect data causes the individual to make mistakes. The individual cannot recognize the incorrect data as incorrect because it is registered in the brain as actual perception.
  7. The mistakes cause emotional reactions.
    No one likes to make mistakes. The individual is simply experiencing a human reaction.
  8. Emotional reactions bring about a condition of frustration.
    The frustration is a result of the cumulative effects of the mistakes and emotional reactions.
  9. Compulsive solutions are created or adopted to solve the mistakes.
    A solution will be a method of knowing something or a method of doing something. It will have worked at least once, and it will be compulsive. These solutions usually begin to appear around age eight or nine. Now instead of the confusion triggering a disorientation, it will trigger the compulsive solution.The disability aspect of a learning disability is composed of the compulsive solutions the individual acquires. These compulsive solutions are what disable the learning process.To effectively unravel this sequence, the underlying reasons for the need to formulate and adopt compulsive solutions must be addressed. These are disorientations and the feelings of confusions that trigger them."

Read more at Davis Dyslexia Methods

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Resolve the Factors that Trigger Disorientation
Ronald D. Davis

The reason that controlling disorientation is not enough to resolve dyslexia is that the disorientation is a response to confusion, frustration or stress. In the case of reading, this response is triggered by confusion over letters or words. As long as this confusion exists, and there is no picture for what a word represents, the student will continue to become disoriented when reading.

For reading, writing and spelling improvement, the Davis method involves three basic steps:

Read more at Davis Dyslexia Methods

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A Mobile Application for Displaying More Accessible eBooks for People with Dyslexia
Luz Rello, Gaurang Kanvinde, Ricardo Baeza-Yates

Considering our contributions, there are two areas of related work: (a) mobile applications for users with dyslexia and (b) usability tests, guidelines and methods used to determine dyslexic-friendly recommendations.

Among the mobile applications for users with dyslexia there are: games; spell checkers such as Wordspeller and Phonetic Dictionary, Phone Apps for Spelling which convert phonetic spelling to proper spelling; applications that exploit speech recognition such as Dragon Search and Dragon Dictate, which make use of voice recognition technologies to search in search engines and dictate email or messages; and reading assistants that use text to speech for reading texts to people with dyslexia, such as Web Reader, and CapturaTalk. Although people with dyslexia are encouraged to modify the setting of eBook readers to facilitate their reading, to the best of our knowledge there is not an application which adapts automatically the text layout with dyslexic friendly parameters.